Borderlands was on quite a few peoples radar before the drastic change in its visual style came about, but once those changes were unveiled it seemed the game’s visibility all but exploded and suddenly everyone was talking about it. And who’s to ‘blame’ for the rise in popularity? Mutinous artists with nothing else to do.
Back in 2008 when Gearbox decided to make the game bigger, the artists working on the game were left twiddling their thumbs because their part was pretty much done. “So, a couple of them – without me knowing about it – went back and looked at all the original concept art we’d done for the game and they found there was a lot of character and personality that was cool,” CEO Randy Pitchford explains in a recent interview. “They started tinkering, putting the concept art in (the game) running real time, working with the programmers to figure out a way to render it so it would look like that.”
Three weeks later, Pitchford was shown a prototype, “I was instantaneously like, “Holy crap! What happened here?” On one level it still looked like Borderlands, but I’d never seen anything like it, so it just knocked me on my ass. I really loved it! It’s like when you see the people who make cars and when they make a concept car that’s frickin’ awesome and they’re really cool, right? But how come we’ve never got to drive one? Why don’t they just build the fucking concept car! Well now I know why, because we had the same thing with Borderlands where we had these awesome concepts for inspiration, but there’s something else that you’re supposed to give to the customer. With a bad ass car you have all the marketing people and engineers get involved and then you get like a Ford, you know? So, I thank God for our mutinous artists who said, “You know what? We’re going to give everyone the concept art,” and they did it, so I’m thankful for their bravery in making it happen.”